Friday, July 20, 2012

Ready, Set, READ. . .July 2012

 Jenny from Jessie Street Designs and Kadie from Seven Alive are running a fun series each month called Ready, Set, Read. . . !  Each person who participates links up and shares a book they have read that month.  For July I chose a nice, light summer read called A Deadly Grind by Victoria Hamilton.  This is the first in a new series of Cozy Vintage Kitchen Mysteries.

This book is the first in a series of Vintage Kitchen Mysteries.  Jaymie Leighton is the vintage cookware and cookbook loving collector who ends up trying to solve the mystery of the man who is murdered on her summer porch following her purchase of an antique Hoosier cabinet at auction.  Despite her older sister Rebecca's lack of confidence in her, Jaymie manages to move on from a broken heart over an ex-boyfriend, help out several neighbors in need and find time to pursuer her dream of having her cookbook published, all the time trying to figure out why the murder that took place on her porch happened and who the victim is!

This is a delightful story, with well written characters and a good plot.  If you happen to like vintage kitchen items you will love Jaymie, who collects all things vintage.  But even if you aren't a collector, you will be drawn in by the author's writing and her development of each of the characters, even the lesser ones.  Ms. Hamilton creates a wonderful small town that makes you wish you could visit and get to know all the locals.  As you progress further into the story you genuinely care about the people involved and want to know more.  Most importantly for a mystery, you are truly guessing right up until the end as to the identity of the murderer and the reason for the crime!

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and am eagerly awaiting the next installment.  I am interested to see what happens with the budding relationship between Jaymie and her new love interest Daniel, as well as to hear more exploits of Jaymie's trusty three-legged Yorkie-Poo, Hopalong.

I always enjoy finding an author who can create characters that make me care about them and want to return to their world and see what happens next. Ms. Hamilton has done just that, in a vastly entertaining story that had me staying up each night wanting to see what happened next!

If you enjoy good writing, funny, interesting and quirky characters, and a good dose of whodunit mystery, you will love this first book in the Vintage Kitchen Mystery Series.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Crumbles Cookie Factory

Anyone who knows me well knows that I adore sweets!  Dessert is my favorite part of any meal and a day without chocolate isn't worth living ;-)

Because I am struggling with health issues at the moment, I was unable to make a cake for my Mom's birthday. I couldn't let her special day pass without having something sweet to celebrate with (who do you think I got my sweet tooth from in the first place?!) so I decided I would have to order something online.  Luckily one of my blogger friends had just been having a giveaway and was raving about an Etsy shop with fantastic desserts called Crumbles Cookie Factory.  She was featuring red velvet cookies, which while they looked divine are more of a favorite of mine than of Mom's.  I checked out her shop and had trouble trying to decide what to order because everything looked so delicious.  Finally I decided on the caramel candy brownies, since they combined Mom's love of chocolate with her love of caramel.

When I placed my order it was cutting it pretty close to Mom's birthday (which fell on a weekend and holiday this year) so I mentioned in the instructions to the seller that it was for a birthday and asked if there was any way she could get them here on time.  I heard back from the owner, La Nae, immediately, letting me know she would be happy to meet my deadline even though I hadn't really given her a fair time frame to work within.  I was so pleased that I would have something to present to Mom and went about the business of making her a card and waiting for the the brownies to arrive.

Little did I know that LaNae was not only planning on shipping the brownies so they would make it for Mom's birthday, but she was tucking in extra treats to make the day special for us both.  She sent my order, but she also sent along some delicious 3D Peach cookies as well as the most amazing Campfire S'Mores I have ever tasted in my whole life!!  When I opened the box, there was a lovely note from LaNae explaining that she wanted to do a little something special to make things nice for us since we were both ill and also to help make Mom's birthday extra special.  I was floored.  I mean I had basically asked this woman to create and cook an order and ship it the same day all because of my own forgetfulness, and she not only did it, but added extra to it just out of kindness!  Now THAT'S customer service.   The best part is that each item was fantastic, and I am a sweets snob, so that is no empty compliment coming from me!

LaNae didn't ask me to blog about this, she didn't ask for anything, but I wanted to let you know that her shop is wonderful.  I was leery about ordering food items online and having them shipped.  I didn't know how well they would stand up to shipping, if they would taste as good as they looked, etc. . .  All my fears were laid to rest with that first bite.  I will definitely order from Crumbles again and I encourage you to check out her shop and consider ordering for any special occasion you might have, or, if you are like me with sweets, any day you need a sweets fix, which is everyday!

Recently LaNae also started a blog where she has all sorts of fun contests and offers specials and coupons as well.  I can honestly say she is one of the nicest sellers I have dealt with and her products are simply divine.  I am not in any way affiliated with Crumbles Cookie Factory nor have I been compensated for writing this blog post.  I just really like her stuff and thought her customer service was excellent and I wanted to let others know about her.

The Kindness of Others

I don't know about you, but there are days when I begin to despair about the human race.  You know the days I mean, the ones where the driver behind you is on your tail and on the horn, the doctor is 2 hours late and doesn't apologize for keeping you waiting, and the lady in front of you at the grocery store has about 2 carts worth of groceries in the express lane!

Somehow on those very days, God always manages to send me a reminder in the form of "an angel with skin on" as one of my dears friends used to say.  It isn't always some big deal, but without fail someone will do something so nice and so sweet for me, as to to redeem all mankind in my eyes!  Today was one of those days, in fact it had been one of those weeks, if you know what I mean?!  Nothing had gone particularly right and I was feeling badly and grumpy.  The doorbell rang and the postman handed me a box.  I hadn't ordered anything so I couldn't figure out what it might be.

I have "met" and befriended several lovely people on line since I have started crafting, one of whom happens to be a talented artist who is on several design teams.  I found her work over at Faber Castell's blog awhile back, and then found her blog during a blog hop for another company.  We began to correspond via email and found we had a lot of things in common.  I admire her talent greatly and am a little in awe of her!

She had put together the most lovely box of goodies for me, all sort of yummy supplies that any crafter would be thrilled to receive.  I am going to post some photos, but among the swag are many of Faber Castell  Art Grip color pencils, Gelatos, Metallic Pitt Artist pens, and assorted Pitt Artist Pen Big Brushes and Pitt Artist Pens all in beautiful shades of blue and green, she even tucked in some Pitt Pastels in assorted colors too!  There are beautiful papers by Webster, and Pinkpaislee as well as two packs of border stickers by Pinkpaislee too!  If that weren't enough to make a girl swoon, there are also two flip notes filled with beautiful paper by Pinkpaislee and a Textural Accents Sampler by Faber Castell with gesso, gel medium and glaze samples!  And to top it all off she included a few things from her personal stash like some bakers twine, some chipboard frames, pretty pink flowers, some ribbons and a couple more gelatos!!  I mean talk about an embarrassment of riches!!

Look at all these Faber Castell Goodies!!   Can you tell I will be having a great time using these in my art journal as well as on canvases and many other crafts?!

Beautiful Webster papers!  Totally my style, especially these ones with the dress forms.  I have special plans for these!

I have never owned any Webster paper and I am so excited to have such pretty ones to play with.

These are the PinkPaislee Borders, which are going to look wonderful with the paper she sent.  Can't wait to create a layout with these.
This is some of the stash from the "goodie bag" she included.  I don't know how well the color is reading, but there is a nice piece of purple ribbon, along with a red lace ribbon.  See the pretty chipboard frames and the delicate pink flowers?  I have several ideas for those already! And who wouldn't want more Gelatos?  Yum!

Now don't get me wrong, I adore all the wonderful goodies she sent and I will happily craft using all of them, but it is truly the thought behind it that made my day.  The fact that this very generous, very sweet, very kind new friend went out of her way to make this package up for me and send it.  I don't believe in coincidence, as I have stated on this blog before.  My friend Msgr. Fink always says, "a coincidence is a miracle God performs when He wants to remain in the background".  Today I really needed to be reminded of how good people really are, and God used this wonderful friend to show me just that.  She isn't wealthy, but she went out of her way to share these items with me because she knew they would please me, she shared what she had with me out of love and friendship.  Isn't that what it is all really about?

Sometimes we think we can't really help others, we are too busy, we don't have any money, we don't know what to do.  I am guilty of this at times too.  But you know what?  We all CAN help someone, and it doesn't have to be with material things either.  We can smile at someone in the store, hold a door for stranger, call a friend just to see how they are doing, send a card to someone "just because", there are so many ways to make a difference each day and they don't have to big gestures.  One of things I battle with the most due to illness is loneliness and isolation.  Having someone reach out to me, whether it is via email, phone or in person is such a huge help to me.  It reminds me that I am connected to the outside world beyond just doctor's appointments.  It helps me to focus on things other than the physical and to catch up on what is going on with the other person as well.

This friend knows that I am struggling, with my health, with my finances and with a lot of things.  She also knows that when I spend time creating it helps to take me out of those things and to put me in a place where I am free from some of those cares and concerns, even if only for a little while, so she sent me "get out of jail free card" if you will.  She gave me the supplies to sit and happily create for hours, heck make that weeks, with all the goodies she sent!  Think about how good that makes me feel.  My friend cares enough to want to show me that she cares, to do something that will help me help myself and she gave of herself freely and without expectation.

Think about how you can be a blessing to someone else today.  Think about how you can do something for someone else on a regular basis, again, it doesn't have to be big or expensive, it just has to come from your heart.  If the person is someone you know well, then think about what would make them happy or be a help to them, like my friend did for me.  If it is a stranger, just offer them the gift of your sincere attention, even if it is only for a few moments.  People know when you are genuinely interested or just faking it.  If someone shows a real interest, it can make their day!

Thank you dear friend, for reminding me of all the good in the world and in my own life.  I am so blessed to have a friend like you and I hope that in some small way I can repay the kindness when you need reminding of the goodness of others.